THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Cal Lutheran Regals found just the spark they needed to stay in playoff contention, Saturday evening, defeating the Occidental Tigers 71-63. Senior Kayla Watterson led a quartet of double-digit point scorers with her first double-double of the season, notching 10 points and 14 boards.
Alongside her, junior Natalie Ruhl picked up her 12th double-digit scoring night on the year and seventh in the last eight games with a team-high 13 points. Freshman Haley Tyrell and sophomore Jozie Tangeman round out the group wtih 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The win moves the Regals to 9-12 overall and 6-6 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with four games left to play before the conference tournament.
Though an immediate foul just five seconds into the contest sent Occidental to the free throw line for the early lead, Cal Lutheran responded with the easy jumper by Watterson and a three from Tyrell to get the offense going in the first quarter. A rotation of shots in the paint by guards Tangeman, Jade Jodan and Ruhl followed, putting the Regals up 13-12 after the first seven minutes.
However, Occidental rebutted with back-to-back threes from Kaleinani Nalliri to close the first period with the 18-13 lead for the Tigers. And though Cal Lutheran kept up with Occidental in the second quarter, each team picked up 17 points, sending the Regals into the locker room trailing 35-30.
On the other hand, something clicked for the Regals entering the back half of the contest, turning up their offensive pressure and shooting 46.7 and 43.8 percent from the floor in the final two periods, respectively, while holding the Tigers to just 20.8 and 28.6 percent.
Tyrell's three with 2:46 winding down on the clock was the catalyst the team needed in the third quarter, while the defense held the Tigers scoreless for the next two and half minutes to make it a one-possession game and bringing Gilbert Arena to their feet.
Down just 52-50 entering the fourth quarter, Tangeman tied things up with a layup on the team's first possession of the period. Things began to roll from there as Cal Lutheran continued to shut down Occidental until the 5:14 mark while pulling away for the 62-54 lead. Then with 4:22 on the clock, Tangeman sunk another shot from deep which hammered the nail in the coffin and allowed Cal Lutheran to cruise to their final 71-63 victory.
The Regals return to the court on Wednesday, February 6, on the road against the La Verne Leopards at 7 p.m.
Postgame Interview: Sr. Kayla Watterson and Fr. Haley Tyrell
Box Score: CLU 71, OXY 63
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director